Nov 9, 2009

Guinea Fowl in a Spot

Humans are always in a mad rush… running the big race to get ahead… fighting against time and always thinking of ways to make their lives easier. As the human race has grown in technology, fast-paced, and chemical lifestyle so has the amount of rubbish and pollution increased in response to their daily demands. We are injecting crops to make them stronger, forcing them to grow faster and then we coat them with mists of chemicals to stop the insects and rodents from snatching a quick meal.

We raise animals for our plates and to stop the “vermin” and other predators from sampling these tasty “takeaways” we lay carcasses out laced with toxic cocktails of poisons. These lethal combinations are seen as an easy way to eradicate annoying pests from depleting the numbers of these expensive livestock. We generate tons and tons of garbage which chokes up the land it is laid to rest on. Layers and layers of non-degradable materials heaped higher and higher leaking foul smelling and disastrous combinations of chemicals and gases into the surrounds.

And then… we are shocked when we see the effects of our “fruitful labours”.
We received a call from someone in the surrounding area… they had come across a rasp of guinea fowl. They were all lying down and were unable to move. The people who found them were under the impression that they had ingested poison.The guinea fowl were rushed over to us at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehab Centre where it was confirmed that yes; they had indeed been victim of poisoning.

They had to be stabilized immediately! Liquids were administered by means of inserting a tube down the throat and injecting the liquids through the tube. The guinea fowl were too weak to feed themselves so they had to be force-fed mealworms and flying ants. This does not sound like too big a deal but when there are 18 of them that require equal attention this is a very time consuming task. To be added to this the guinea fowl had to be attended to every 3 hours for their first couple of days. They were in a terrible state!
They seemed to lack any form of energy and some were making a ghastly gurgling noise. It seemed that, for some, it was touch and go.
Perseverance and persistence are the key to any battle! With the help of a handful of our more experienced volunteers who are studying veterinary science and completed vet nursing degrees, we managed to get them on the right track.

Some bounced back more quickly than others but eventually the hard work and dedication paid off and all 18 guinea fowl were standing, pecking seed and generally doing what guinea fowl usually do. After being kept under observation to ensure there were no relapses we decided that they were good to go!
Their legs were ringed to allow us to identify them and they were loaded carefully into release cages. Once they were settled in these cages they were driven towards the dam on the farm.
It was most definitely a case of “ready… set… go” with the guinea fowl flying out to meet their freedom. A little snack was sprinkled around for them which, after a circuit of investigation, they pecked at enthusiastically. They seemed to settle in immediately and appeared to be delighted to be out in the fresh air again.We will keep a watchful eye on them but hopefully we will be free from the worry of them being exposed to such a terrible ordeal as a result of poisoning.
People need to be more aware of the effect they are having on our existing wildlife. We need to break free from the “out of sight, out of mind” perspective and look at the bigger picture. We need to ask ourselves: what actions may I take to help make a difference, no matter how small?

Totsiens Thabo

Thabo, our miracle White Rhino calf has finally been relocated to his new home!

The last time we spoke of Thabo to you he was suffering from prolonged, chronic constipation. He went for weeks and weeks without any bowel movements. Even the vet that we rely on for assistance with our rhino babies was completely baffled by Thabo’s situation… Thabo carried on quite cheerfully while we all stressed over his terrible ordeal.

After attempting all the tried and tested methods of treatment – to no avail - we started reaching our wits-end. The vet had one last form of medication that we could try… and then after that we would really be in the dark as to what to do next. It seemed that there was just no solution to this problem…

We persisted with the medication but day after day there were no signs that it was working. When one day Thabo decided to surprise his Rhino parent (who was watching over him) and produced a large, well formed stool. Seeming extremely proud of himself, Thabo gamboled away to play in the grass. Never... NEVER… have you ever seen people as excited about rhino poop as the people in the rehab centre were that day! Shouts and Hoots of joy went up as the news was spread. Finally the rocky path seemed to be almost at an end and after careful monitoring and continued application of medication Thabo made it in to the clear. He carried on with his daily routine completely unruffled by all the excitement going on around him.

Now that he was out of the woods we could all relax and sit back and enjoy watching him grow. And boy did he grow!!! At 4 months and 170kgs he could put a fair amount of force behind his nodule of a horn. He became more and more confident as the weeks ticked by and he started to become more assertive in his demands for food. Although he began to thump his human admirers more often than not his “rhino parents” continued to adore him and could see no wrong in their little grey “angel.” They took Thabo for runs around the garden which he loved more than anything else! (not counting his milk) Those short, creased grey legs could pick up a burst of speed in a short period of time and he often had people doubled over panting while he stood impatiently waiting for another lap around the grounds. He provided us with many a good chuckle when he would rush out of the clinic in the morning bursting to burn off some of his pent-up energy. If you have never before seen it, you would not believe that a rhino could skip and hop and spring around as gracefully as he.

Finally secure in the knowledge that Thabo was fit and healthy we began the search to find a home where Thabo could be settled and cared for to the standards that Moholoholo upholds. It did not take long until a suitable home was found in the form of Thula Thula Game Reserve in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal. Here he would eventually be released out onto the game reserve to wander freely around. For the time being Thabo would be watched over by his original “mommy” Elaine who will be with him for at least another year.

The time came too quickly for some (and I am sure not quick enough for his new family) to say “Totsiens” (Afrikaans for goodbye) to Thabo and for him to be collected and transported to this new home. Tears were shed as rhino mommies reluctantly waved goodbye as Thabo departed in his rather comfy looking crate.

We are glad to report that after being introduced to his “luxury accommodation” Thabo has settled down well and has won over the hearts of all that came into contact with him.

A very BIG thank-you goes out to the special people who gave up time and sleep to look after this special bundle of “happiness” we really do appreciate your great contributions!

Oct 27, 2009

It is a girl rhino at last for Moholoholo Animal Rehab

After receiving a constant stream of male rhinos we finally have a girl!

On the 7thOctober 2009 we received a phone call from a nearby Game Reserve regarding a female rhino that was unable to stand up; she appeared to be severely injured. She was found to have been involved in a confrontation with a large male who we presume had wanted to mount her. After further inspection it was apparent that her side had been badly pierced by the male’s horn. Sadly she did not survive her injuries and after a post-mortem was done it was revealed that the male Rhino had broken her ribs and punctured a lung. Unfortunately a calf was at her side! This now meant no Mum for the baby Rhino. A Rhino calf will stay by its mother’s side until it is 3-4 years old, requiring their mother’s constant care and attention, not to mention around the clock access to milk for at least the first 18 months!

The necessary people were brought in by the Game Reserve and procedures were set to dart the young rhino. This was needed as being 5 months old she was no baby, baby and the “grumpy” temperament of a rhino had already set in. She was darted, loaded and transported here to Moholoholo. This is where Moholoholo came into the picture. After successfully hand-raising many White Rhino calves with the latest almost ready to be relocated to his new home, Moholoholo is well versed in the needs and requirements of a demanding patient such as this and so is a natural choice when trying to find a temporary haven for one of these precious babies.

While we were awaiting her arrival, phone calls were being made in the office to try and locate a 44 gallon steel drum. A steel drum you ask? Why would we need a steel drum? Well, when trying to feed a baby rhino who has never had human contact before, you might find yourself on the receiving end of an angry thump. A rhino at this age, that has been taken straight from its mother’s side, is still wild and terrifyingly aggressive. After many confrontations in the past, Brian had discovered when given the job of rearing baby Rhino’s in the Umfolozi Game Reserve in KZN that the drum can act as a welcome buffer when the rhino decides to direct all its fury in your direction. Brian would climb into the steel drum to enable him to approach the rhino calf. Instead of having to fall back from a charge Brian would be able to face the calf head on and persist with trying to offer the baby milk. The usual method follows the pattern of standing ones ground against a charge, bracing on impact and splashing milk around the rhino’s mouth. This will continue until the rhino realizes that the liquid you are splashing in its direction is milk! Then curiosity takes over and the rhino will start muzzling the teat. Eventually after squeezing and coaxing, the rhino will finally discover that by sucking the teat he will get milk. After that there is no holding back and lo and behold if you do not come with her milk on time, everything in her enclosure - whether it is the drum, chair or stick - will feel the brunt of her frustration!

The rhino calf was collected and brought back to the Rehabilitation Centre that same afternoon. She arrived somewhat bigger than we expected and slightly wobbly on her feet. Her wobbliness was as a result of her having to be sedated so that she could be transported from the Reserve to the Centre. Her ears had also been plugged to protect them from the noise and her eyes had been covered by a towel. Gently she was guided to the boma and after a quick check-over she was left to settle in. It did not take long for Brian to coax her into accepting the bottle and soon she was sucking away quite merrily. The “rhino mommies”, in the form of two dedicated and commendable volunteers, have been spending day and night with her. They have to constantly talk to her to reassure her and sooth her. On top of this they have to administer her feeds every 4 hours around the clock. Slowly she is becoming accustomed to their voices and presence. We are grateful for their dedication and cannot thank them enough for their patience and persistence. She is not very receiving when it comes to new visitors and reminds us of the fact that, yes indeed; she is still a wild rhino. After estimating her age at about 5 months old she has been introduced to solids which she munches on contentedly throughout the day.

In celebration of her being a female white rhino. (The last 5 have been male) – The name inThombi was chosen for her – meaning ‘girl’ in isiZulu. Hopefully, soon, we can report to you that she has been moved to a new home where she can roam free and happy under the watchful eye of a dedicated caregiver.

Sep 30, 2009

Honey Badgers Triple Trouble

“Ring…. Ring…. Ring….” That dreaded sound that seems to bore into ones ears when you are just going off to sleep. It was approx. 9:30 pm when we received a call from a lady who was traveling on the road from the Klaserie Game Reserve, to say she spotted a baby leopard on the road which had been hit by a car! Brian collected the necessary items and called the guides to assist. Jenny in the meantime was left to try and locate a vet if needed but to no avail. One did not answer their phone and the other had had an accident and was not up to coming out.

Arriving at the location given by the lady, Brian noticed the poor little thing that was approx. 2½ months old, it looked in a bad state and before Brian could do anything it crawled under the fence into Kapama Reserve summoned by its mother’s desperate call. Brian realized the danger of trying to stop it and had to leave it be as he could not go further without trespassing on private property. Reluctantly they returned and Brian phoned the Reserve to let them know of the incident and that it would be best to put the baby out of its misery. There definitely was no chance of it living as he could see it was severely injured. On their return Jenny soon dozed off to sleep but Brian tossed and turned, not being able to get the baby leopard out of his mind and feeling bad that he did not get to it in time.
Sleep was soon broken, so it seemed, with another call at 5:30 that next morning from a desperate local farmer who found a trio of honey badgers that had moved onto his farm and they were killing his geese. Unfortunately Honey Badgers can cause devastation to poultry and honey farmers if given a chance.

Often we receive phone calls for “problem animals” whose quest for food takes them onto farm lands where they are not seen as welcome visitors. So it is with gratitude when a person contacts us to let us know when they have a problem and ask what can we do about it?

Once again Brian collected the necessary equipment and called a guide and volunteer students who were eager to assist and rushed over to survey the scene. We were greeted with an excited farmer and a rather ruffled feathered looking dead goose amongst the remaining few geese that were looking rather flustered. The farmer had been proactive and had set up a trap cage and had successfully managed to catch one of the badgers! The desperation in his voice on the phone was the fact that the badger was escaping!! The honey badger, a large male, was brought back to the rehab to await the arrival of his “partners in crime” who the farmer hoped would join him soon!

We then set up our own cage trap which is ‘Badger Proof’ (to an extent) and this time the dead goose that had been found at the scene of the crime (see photo below) was placed within. Knowing what we knew about the honey badgers’ expertise in escape artistry, they would outshine Houdini definitely, so a specific cage trap had to be used to prevent the honey badger escaping once he had satisfied himself on the gourmet meal we had laid out for him.

All that was left to do now was wait…! But we did not have to wait for very long! On the second night the temptation was just too much and the second of the Honey Badgers from the trio had taken the bait! Success!

He too was brought back to the rehab to join his ally. They have gone underground (literally speaking) and we do not see too much of them at the moment. They have been placed in one of the enclosures until we could find a suitable release spot for them.

Two safely in hand, one more to go:-

The third member of this trio is being slightly more evasive. The trap has remained empty for the last three nights. We hope that we can soon reunite this artful badger with his friends so that they may be relocated together to an area where they can dig, run and eat to their hearts’ content. But if not, the 2 will be released approx. 130km from here in on large Game Farm fitted with a transmitter so we can monitor their movements as well, which we are sure will be very interesting!

Until next time go well!

Brown Hyena freed from a Necklace of Death

On 17 July 2009 we received a call from a Ranger from a nearby Game Farm who was on his way out for the evening. He was traveling towards Kampersrus, a little village down the road from us when something dark caught his eye. After a closer inspection he discovered that it was in fact a Brown Hyena. A Brown Hyena is a very rare sighting down our way, but to see one roaming around freely on a public road was even rarer still!

The Ranger soon noticed that there was something wrong with the Hyena. He tried to see what the matter could be but it crawled into a concrete drain pipe under the road, he saw his chance and blocked the entrance with netting which he fortunately had with him. He phoned Brian at the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre who was awaiting the arrival of guests. He immediately gathered the necessary items and guides he needed to help and drove by vehicle in the direction he was given.

(The image on the right  shows The snare around the Brown Hyena’s neck.)

(Image on the left shows how deep the scar is and the Maggots.)
On arrival they found the Brown Hyena huddled at the far end of the pipe; it was clear there was something severely wrong. He was darted and brought to the rehab for further inspection. Once we had  him settled in the clinic it was, to our shock, we discovered that the Hyena had an animal’s worst enemy . . . . . . . ‘a snare,’ around his neck which had cut deeply into the flesh. By the state of the wound it looked as if this animal had been walking around with this ‘necklace of death’ for at least 2 months. The skin in some places had already started growing over the snare and the wound was teaming with maggots.

Our vet nurse was away at the time and Drew, one of the vet students volunteering with us at the time, volunteered to assist Brian to lend a hand and conscientiously cleaned the wound. Eventually the awful part came with us having to, with much effort, remove the snare from deep within the Hyena’s neck, but a good job was done and soon he was bandaged up and left to recover in the quarantine.

Just two weeks down the road we felt it was time for the Brown Hyena’s first check-up. A vet was called in to give his verdict. The vet darted him and gave him a thorough inspection. We were all amazed at how wonderfully his appalling wounds had healed in such a short period. The vet gave our Hyena the thumbs up and declared that he would soon be ready for release.

Excitement and anticipation are the emotions that were swelling through the Rehab as we geared up for his release. A nearby Game Farm was to be his new home and they had prepared a Boma for his arrival. Once the schedule of darting and fitting the tracking collar was fulfilled, the Hyena was transferred to his new home where he is to stay in the Boma for awhile to allow him to adjust to his new surroundings.

Once he is settled, this regal creature with his chocolate coloured fur, shaggy mane and banded legs will, once again, be able to roam at his leisure. We will be able to watch over him and monitor his movements with the help of the collar which will transmit his co-ordinates to us. We hope that from this experience we will be able to learn a little more about this elusive animal’s habits that is such a rare sight to behold. Go Well friend!

Happily Ever After for the two baby white rhinos

As most of you would have read in a previous article, Kuza and Satara are the two baby white rhinos that arrived here at Moholoholo within days of each other last year. In a year they have swept us off our feet (figuratively speaking) and have grown into 2 handsome yet cumbersome hunks.

Many dedicated hours were spent in the raising of these babies. Which gave us the privilege to go on a wonderfully, delightful, humorous journey with Kuza and Satara as we watched these two grow. Watching their milestones was fascinating as they were so different in nature one from the other.

At one stage we thought they would not make it when they both became ill. They overcame their great ordeal, flourishing back into two healthy ‘Tanks’ who once again swept us off our feet (literally speaking this time). There were times when one could only marvel at how such gentleness could come from such huge bodies yet on the other hand they could knock you over with a rather boisterous nudge leaving many a bruised leg or chin!

During their time here, many who passed through these gates had the advantage of seeing and touching these babies and shared in the privilege of having a baby rhino so close and to have the opportunity to touch and feel and note their characters. It would now be a different sighting when they spot a rhino in the wild as now they can identify it, not only from a distance but to remember the opportunity they had to feel and see the skin and what their eyes actually looked like.

We had many a laugh as they galloped around at full speed chasing and charging each other. The most comical was to watch them slip and slide and wallow in a mud pool which brought about smiles to faces and a glow in our hearts. One wonders how those feet and stumpy legs can carry those bulky bodies and yet still gain that fast speed and turn at a split second as they romp and play without falling over!

Of course time passes on and the time soon comes when one must say goodbye to those we care for and if one finds greener pastures we must let them go. So the time came too quickly for us when they were ready to move onto the next chapter of their lives. They began to act more and more as rhinos should and we had to move them to an enclosure until we were 100 % certain they were fit and healthy and ready to be relocated to their new home. Fortunately it was not for too long and we went about making the necessary arrangements for permits.

On 27 August 2009, the owners-to-be, came to collect, our not so little babies. We were thrilled to meet the new owners and to see the love they showed towards the rhinos. This made us feel happier knowing they were going to a home where they would be well cared for and so many hearts relaxed that day to have this assurance.

With the vet in attendance Kuza and Satara were darted and Kuza, being the softy that he is, was happily led to the vehicle and settled in his hay without a hassle. Satara . . . . . oh Satara, put up a bit of a fuss, those of you who know him are probably not surprised! For those of you who did not meet Satara, let us explain. . . . As Satara grew he became more certain of what he wanted – usually his milk - and if he did not get it when he wanted it he would sure let us know, he became cantankerous and would use a flip of that heavy chin to let his feeling be known and sent many a person running until the milk arrived and then all and sundry would re-appear for there “baby sitting” duties. He liked to remind people that he is in fact a rhino. Satara often enjoyed a game of jousting and he usually proposed this “game” when your hands were full or when you were completely unprepared. Once the sedative was given to Satara he fought it and stubbornly refused to be led in! He had made Moholoholo his home and he was not going to leave without a fight!

(Satara consoling Kuza after being darted)

 Finally, after much coaxing, false starts and dodging charges, Satara decided that it was not such a bad idea after all and joined Kuza in the comfort of the vehicle that would drive them off into the sunset.

Their fairytale ending is just the beginning as they will explore the grounds of the huge sanctuary that they have moved to. They will have acres of ground too roam on and will one day produce young ones of their own.

A very big THANK YOU goes out to all the rhino parents (you know who you are) who gave of their blood, sweat and tears to bring these two precious rhinos to where they are now. It is greatly appreciated and I am sure Kuza and Satara are eternally grateful! Now we can turn our full attention to Thabo, our next baby rhino who is almost 3 months now!

Sep 4, 2009

Ditch, The Lioness Taking Pride Of Place At Moholoholo Animal Rehab

New animals are brought into the Moholoholo Centre for treatment and attention on a regular basis. Once their wounds have healed or their condition has improved, we are able to release them, but this is not how it always happens. In certain instances the animal will never be able to be released and so Moholoholo becomes their new home. Many of these animals suffered injuries that will require them to receive constant care and attention to ensure their continued health and comfort.
Several years ago a lioness was caught by her left, back leg in a snare on a nearby Game Reserve.

The wire cut through the skin and down to the bone, resulting in a terrible wound.  This lioness, later to be called Ditch, was in need of immediate attention if we were to be able to save her leg! A vet was called and with much thought a plan was devised and put into action to allow us to dart and capture her without causing stress to the rest of her pride. Once she had been captured, Ditch was rushed off to the Animal Rehabilitation Centre for treatment. Ditch responded well and after 6 weeks her wound had healed enough for us to consider returning her back to her pride.
Ditch was placed in a holding cage in the area where her pride roams and meat was put out nearby to entice the pride to come closer. This would help Ditch to adjust back to her surroundings and would expose Ditch to her pride, giving them a chance to become used to her presence once more. Unfortunately life is not all about smooth sailing and the territorial male did not take kindly to having Ditch taking her meal so close to where he was eating and he lunged out in attack. The holding cage spared her life but she lost a toe from her front paw. Ditch was then brought back to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre where her paw was attended to. It was a clean wound and once again she healed quickly.

We were not going to give up on assisting Ditch to return her back to her natural way of life and once again a plan was devised to try and reintroduce Ditch to her pride. This time the territorial male was darted and temporarily removed from the scene and Ditch was again placed in a holding cage within her pride’s territory. Part of the cage was slightly raised and a full carcass was strategically placed, half within the holding cage and half outside of the cage. This was done to encourage the lionesses to come and eat and allow Ditch to eat alongside them as if she were part of the pride. The only barrier would be the netting of the cage and we hoped that this would encourage them to re-accept Ditch. Once again the other members of her pride were not welcoming and immediately attacked her. Colin, the Ranger had to chase the pride away using the vehicle. We then had to face the facts that Ditch had been away from her pride for too long and she would not be accepted back. So with heavy hearts we brought Ditch back to the Rehab Centre.

At this time we had another “pride-less” male lion, Big Boy, who was in need of company, and who better to put him with than Ditch?  Big-Boy had come to us by order of the magistrate, he was brought to us along with his two sisters. Within a short period of being here one of his sisters had to be put down due to malnourishment and not long after his second sister, who was suffering from deformities due to malnourishment, was put down as well, leaving Big-Boy without a family.  Ditch was accepted by Big-Boy and to this day you can see them relaxing together in the shade perfectly content in each others company.

The vet is called out on intervals as Ditch’s injured leg had developed abscesses. If Ditch had been accepted back into her pride she would never have coped with all the walking due to her injured foot and would have eventually died of starvation. All worked out well at the end for Ditch and as you can see from the latest photographs the only legacy from her terrible ordeal is a banded scar around her back, left leg and a unique paw-print, below that marks these grounds as her home.

Aug 14, 2009

Thabo Is For Happiness

It was a normal Saturday evening and although everybody was winding down after a good day’s work there was still a feeling of expectancy in the air. The reason being, we were all awaiting the arrival of a day old White Rhino who had been rejected by his mother after birth.

This little baby was coming from far away and he had a very long tiring trip to make before he would arrive here at the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre. Finally just after 10pm we received a call from the gate, our little rhino was finally here! The students gathered round as the vehicle pulled in and we all waited with baited breath to see this little bundle. Oh, what a delight to behold! For those who have only seen the much larger versions in the game parks or on TV, a baby rhino is the sweetest sight, enough to melt your heart!
Once we had transferred him into the clinic we allowed him to walk to his room. He looked so cute as he wobbled down the passage on his ungainly rounded feet, hesitant in his new surroundings. His “mommy”, a little blonde girl, lead him to the room that had been prepared and helped him settle into his warm room where he would stay until he would be strong enough to venture outside.

After a quick check-over he was then left to become acquainted with his new “mommies”. Baby rhinos require feeding every two hours throughout the day and usually stay by their mother’s side until they are about 2 ½ years old. This means that there must be someone for the baby to bond with and be by its side every hour of every day and night (and let it be known that a baby rhino can kick up quite a fuss when he looses sight of his “mommy”!). After much deliberation a name was settled on…. Our newest addition was to be called Thabo. “Why Thabo you ask?” Well, Thabo means “Happiness” in si-Sotho and this wriggling, mewing, rosy-tinted baby had won over everybody with just a single look from his big round eyes to his clumsy round feet! One could not help but have a smile on your face when you saw him cavorting around.

But as always happens……… when life does not take its natural course, problems arise. After a few days Thabo’s tummy stopped working and there was no signs of any bowel movements. As the days passed we became more and more worried. After check-ups from the vet and being on various courses of medication and treatments, 4 weeks later, Thabo still has us all completely and utterly mystified! Surely after all this time of not passing any dung, Thabo would be in a terrible state – right? Well this is not the case. Although he is weak, he still demands his food at every feeding time and runs around the gardens with crazy bursts of energy and generally carries on as if everything is perfectly in order! Despite this we are all gravely worried about his condition and are beginning to wonder how long it can last. He is under constant surveillance and every possible treatment is being tried to rectify this uncomfortable affliction.

We are so very proud of and grateful for the dedicated volunteers who have stepped in to fill the very big “shoes” of a Rhino parent! A great deal of their time is often spent in uncomfortable situations and we would just like to say thank-you for your passion and commitment!

Aug 3, 2009

Reach for the Moon and Touch a Star

Everyone has a dream that burns inside of them, a wish that whispers to your heart…“If I could only!”
We have been fortunate to share in these unforgettable moments when we have had the opportunity to help. We would like to share one such child’s moment.Some people never get a chance to realize these dreams and all too often they get left on the roadside of the highway called Life. Other people strive to fulfill these dreams but are not always given enough time to attain them on their own. This is where foundations such as “Make a Wish” step in to take hold of the reigns and steer you towards your dream.

Not very long ago we received a visit from a very special little boy named Menno from Holland. Menno has had a life long passion for Cheetah and one of his dreams was to be able to stroke one. There are not normally many opportunities presented in life that would allow one to come into close quarters with a cheetah, let alone be able to stroke one. This is especially so when you are all of 10 years old! Menno is a cheerful boy with a big smile and twinkling blue eyes who is suffering from bone and lung cancer. When he arrived at Moholoholo, Menno was taken on a tour and was shown some of the animals we have at the centre. He was introduced to our various Vultures, Owls and Eagles. including Dassies, Rhinos, Servals, Leopards and Lions.

Then it was time for the crowning moment…. Menno was taken to meet ‘Shinandi’ one of our resident cheetah. With a sweet face and an even sweeter nature Shinandi greeted Menno with her rumbling purr. Menno was able to stroke and love Shinandi and experience a special moment which is something amazing. Shinandi reciprocated with a lick of the hand seemed to be just as fascinated with Menno as he was by her.

Menno’s father – Paulus was also in for a treat! It was time to feed the Wild dogs and a helper was needed! The excited chatter of the wild dogs filled the air as they knew that they were getting food. To get so close to these mottled animals is something in itself and to see them leaping in the air is a spectacle to remember! The moment that stole the show for us was to hear Menno exclaim that: “This was the happiest day of my life!”

To see the joy in those eyes and expressions of wonderment on his face, makes us so humble and realize how appreciative we should be of everything whether great or small in our lives.On this day we learnt that the tiniest people can teach us the biggest lessons! Never give up on what you believe in and always strive catching a hold of your dreams. Life is what you make of it so live it to the full!

Menno, we would all like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to share in your dreams and allowing us to be a part of this wonderful experience.

Jul 9, 2009


The greatest concern for anyone working for the environment is: ‘what is the final outcome of our Vultures?’ Specifically our Cape Vultures, where can they go? where can they be safe and live without the fear of meeting death before their time?
It seems that these places are becoming few and far apart! Between dodging electric fences and steering clear of power lines these amazing birds now have to live under the constant threat that the next meal they eat may possibly be their last.

On Wednesday evening the 01st July  just as everything was winding down for the day - we received a phone call – a Cape Vulture had been found and it seemed to be paralyzed…. ! The Vulture was rushed to us, where it was given the normal procedure of being checked over and the conclusion was that it was as a result of poisoning. This is yet another of the hundreds that are brought into the Moholoholo Rehab Centre due to poisoning.
As no others were found in the area it is assumed that this vulture flew a fair distance after eating the poisoned carcass. This carcass had more than likely been laid out for a “pesky predator” that was causing disturbance in the area. However, in the animal world, food is not to be wasted and many a Vulture and predator would partake in the offerings of a full carcass left out in the open. This means that the damage would be profound!

When the vulture was brought in, its crop was full to the brim with water. He was driven by a burning thirst, as a result of the poison. After 24 hours his crop had still not drained and he could hardly hold his head upright. Sadly, despite all efforts and constant care we were not able to pull the vulture through.
When poisoned, Vultures experience paralysis, they also attempt to vomit, eventually have diarrhea, the eyes droop and they do not react when picked up. The extent of the symptoms also depends on the volume of poison they have consumed and the species.
These Vulture’s numbers are already hideously low, tallying in at a minuscule number that is ever decreasing. Each Vulture that is lost as a result of man is another step closer to the extinction of a bird that is a vital link in the complex chain of life out in the wild which we cannot afford to loose.

Please report any sightings of tagged Vultures with the location to Brian Jones at: or Phone: +27 (01)5 79 55 236 or Fax: +27 (0)15 79 55 333
You will find the tag on the wings.  

Jun 17, 2009

Kuza and Satara Fight the Big Fight

Having had our little rhino bundles for almost 7 months now, we can hardly describe them as “little”.  Kuza and Satara have grown into ‘2 huge tanks’ and their personalities have grown to match! They still follow their “Rhino Mommies” around and are not bashful to let you know when they want something with a cheerful nudge and a happy whistle.
Sadly the last few weeks Kuza and Satara have both been seriously ill as they became stricken with chronic diarrhea. We tried many different treatments, but to no avail, and as time wore on without any noticeable improvement, we began to fear that we would loose our babies. The local vet was called in and he advised on treatments. He injected our  babies and even went to the drastic measures of getting Kuza and Satara hooked up to drips to re-hydrate them and replenish some of the minerals and vitamins they had been loosing through this terrible ordeal.

Now keeping a baby white rhino still when trying to insert a drip is not an easy feat as one can imagine! Extra hands were needed as it was all systems go and even Tanya Erasmus was roped in from the office to lend a helping hand to her glee!

This was a tense day for everyone at the Rehab Centre and we all watched and waited with baited breath. Kuza and Satara seemed to perk up a little after this… but it was not long and they seemed to be back where they started. We moved them to a new sleeping enclosure and they are now monitored constantly throughout the day. Never a moment goes by when they are not being watched over by a dedicated ‘rhino-sitter’ in the form of one of our many capable volunteers.
It is breaking our hearts to see our usually cheerful and cheeky grey tanks (who usually charge around the rehab) now wondering listlessly through the grounds or laying for long periods under a shady tree.
The vet call-outs, procedures and medication are very costly and a lot of our funds are being pumped into pulling Kuza and Satara through this infliction. As we are a non-profit organization and it is not our policy to ever ask for anything towards the Centre but we often battle to find excess money to pay for emergencies such as this one. This ordeal has cost in the region of R80, 000.00. We would appreciate all the support that we receive and are highly grateful for any donations.

If you would like to assist us in this cause, please contact Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre on:
(015) 795 5236  / +2715 795 5236.
Alternatively you can email us at:

Jun 9, 2009

One Step Closer From Being Released For Our Baby Servals

In a short space of time we were graced with the presence of 4 little fluff balls in the form of baby Servals which were brought in from different areas. We gauged them to be more or less the same age of about 2 months old. They are growing quickly and doing well. Their names are Scruffball, Fireball, Emma and Leila.

Fireball, named for her feisty temperament, was found in the Kruger National Park by a ranger. She was severely dehydrated and going in circles. They suspect she had been hit by a car, which would have been at night as Servals are nocturnal, and she was brought directly to us for attention.
Scruffball, the only male, came in from a farm in Polokwane where she was found and taken care of briefly before being brought to us, she was named thus due to his scruffy, thick coat.
Scruffball and Fireball were not greatly affected by the human contact they experienced and will be able to face the challenges of the wild head on. They have now been moved to an outside enclosure, taking them one step closer to their release.
Emma was found in the Sabie region at just 2 weeks old. She has a spunky, sweet nature and loves nothing more than chasing a feather around, practicing her pouncing technique. Although she was kept slightly longer by her rescuers and is a little tamer than the other two, she too has been placed outside with the others preparing her for her venture into the wilderness.
Leila has the saddest story of them all. After she was found, thinking they were helping, her rescuers decided to keep her. She was fed entirely on a diet of Wheetbix, a local wheat cereal, and cow’s milk. This diet was completely insufficient for her survival!!!! With the lack of iron and calcium, which she would naturally have obtained from meat and bones, her development was severely hampered. After 2 months of this food her growth was stunted, making her look a whole lot smaller for her age. Her coat became very course and short and eventually started to fall out. Her legs are dramatically bowed and she was solely dependant on humans for her food.
The first thing Brian needed to do was introduce Leila to natural food and the best way to do that was to give her soft food such as baby mice. Brian had to force the meat down twice hoping the taste for meat would ‘kick’ in. After that Leila latched her eyes onto Brian as if to say “What was that you gave me? That tasted like something my genes say I have been missing, how about more?” Well that was it! She caught 2 on her own that night and drank her milk with gusto!
With her clumsy lope, playful, affectionate nature Leila has won over many a heart at the Rehab Centre and is fast becoming a favorite. We hope that with the right diet her coat will at least come right. We are not sure if her legs will ever right themselves… only time will tell. In the meantime we are trying our best to entice her to catch live prey and teach her to be independent, taking her one step closer to a life in the wild she has never known.
People might be appalled when reading about feeding animals with mice, rats etc but one must realize that to release them back into the wilds they must be given the food they would prey on naturally to give them the nutrition they need for bone development. You can see from the photo of Leila what the outcome is when they are not given the right food. Their next option if not fed right would be finding their way to people, killing chickens and so on. Never can an animal, when needing to be released, be succumbed to a humans’ way of living and eating, we must try our uttermost to rear them as close as possible to the environment that they would be released in. It is not even a matter of releasing them anywhere, one must make sure the area is not stocked already and to find somewhere that is prepared to take them if they are not able to go back where they came from.
Find out more about animal rehabilitation at Moholoholo.

May 25, 2009

Leopard Report

Just a quick update on the blog of 28 August, ‘Unwanted Still’, about 2 young leopards that were caught on one of the nearby farms. The farmer did not want them on his property because they were killing his cattle. More precisely it was their mother that killed the cattle.

The 2 youngsters could not be released after they arrived at Moholoholo Animal Rehab since they were too young and would still be with their mother had they been in the wild. We therefore kept them at our centre for a few months until they were old enough to be released.

We were approached by one of the more recently formed conservancies in the Hoedspruit area, the Blue Canyon Conservancy, asking us if we could release these leopards in their conservancy.

This was a perfect opportunity and with Environmental affairs consent we were able to release these beautiful cats in the Blue Canyon conservancy. Various owners from the Conservancy sponsored 2 GPS collars to monitor them within their boundaries as well as outside of the Conservancy.

We named them, Blue Canyon 1 and 2, and released them in the conservancy on 21 February 2009. They went their separate ways immediately and were quick to get out of sight and as far away from us as possible. From that point on we would only see them as dots on a map hidden in their bush surroundings.

As they were still with their mother when they were caught we doubted that they were fully capable of hunting by themselves. They would have that built-in killing instinct but not the technique, so we monitored them closely.

It was not long before Blue Canyon 2 made his first kill, a baby waterbuck. This was thrilling news and we knew he was on his way to becoming another of the rehabs success stories. Usually our only way of knowing if a leopard has killed anything is when they stay on the same spot for more than 6 hours (after dark). They would normally stay with their kill and feed off it for up to 3 days if it suits them.

Blue Canyon 1, however, did not follow this same pattern. He never gave us the slightest clue (inkling) that he had killed anything. He seemed to be the more nervous of the 2 cats and after 7 days with no signs to indicate a kill, we had to conclude that he was simply too nervous to return to his kills, as he would have been starving at that point if he had had no luck.

Blue Canyon 2 is still quite happy within the area he was released and has been staying in an area of about 1000ha in the northern triangle of the conservancy. Blue Canyon 1 again had different ideas. He did not like the area, and possibly had faced some conflict with other predators, for there are lion, hyena and other leopards on the conservancy. He soon moved to the southern end of the conservancy and within a few days had left the conservancy’s boundaries, heading south toward the mountain.

The area he was moving towards was not ‘leopard friendly’ at all and he was in danger.

Blue Canyon 2 continues to reside in the northern side of the reserve and has been closely monitored by Game Ranch Management Services from Hoedspruit to see what he is killing and documenting their finds. To date we believe that 2 waterbuck calves, 4 impala and 2 warthogs have been killed by Blue Canyon 2.

Sadly we have not received any new data from Blue Canyon 1 for the last few weeks. We do not know where he is and there is a chance that he has been killed or the collar malfunctioned. There is also a chance that the collar has come off and that it is lying in a place where there is no cellular coverage and can not send any data back to the server. We sincerely hope that the animal is still alive and is doing well.

At the end of the day we were glad we were able to give these young leopards a chance to go back to the wild, and whilst every release holds much uncertainty for the future, the wild is where these beautiful creatures belong, and for as long as we can find suitable habitat to release them in, our work will continue with the species!

We will be sure to keep you posted on these young leopards story! For more information on Moholoholo visit the website.

Goodbye Blondie – the last of the Circus lions!

Many of you may recall the lion, Blondie, from your visits to our centre over the last 13 years. He was confiscated from an Egyptian circus that was traveling through Africa in 1996. They apparently went bankrupt in Mozambique and abandoned their animals, locked in small cages and with little or no attention at all. They were in very poor condition and we were asked if we would offer them sanctuary here at the centre. Both had broken their teeth from biting at the bars desperately trying to free themselves.

Animal Defenders from the UK came to the rescue and managed to find homes for all the animals from dogs and horses, to lions and tigers.  It was not an easy task, with a lot of obstacles in the way, but eventually with plenty of persuasion and determination they won and the animals were distributed to different centers in the country. Three of these lions were brought to Moholoholo Rehab Centre. Blondie was the youngest of the lot and seemed to have been in the best condition.

A sight Brian and Jenny will never forget is the moment the door was opened to the lions ‘traveling boxes’. They stood and looked out into their ‘large’ enclosure’, then one proceeded to venture out……..put a paw on the ground and took it back immediately, tried again, then ventured out….. walked up to a tree, smelt it, then walked the entire enclosure and I am sure if he could have spoken he would have said “Is this real? Am I really on natural ground? Will there truly be no more bars, prodding, eating measly meals? Am I really going to have room to play, roam and walk  around which I have been missing for all these years from being cramped in a tiny 2 x 4m cage!?)

Jenny also recalls that for the first four months that these lions were at the centre, they had never roared. One evening they put a tape on classical music (including one track which sounded much like the music one would play in a circus), and were amazed by the sound which erupted from these reluctant residents.  From then on the circus lions of Moholo Rehab roared on a daily basis It seems so strange that something that would bring back unhappy memories would stir them on to roar.

Many people think that animals do not remember. Just one of many incidences which proves this theory wrong was on a day when an African by the name of Wisdom from Zambia, came to visit us.  It turned out he was one of the guys who cared for the lions whilst working in the circus.  We asked him to call Blondie then known as Akef, who was lying at the back of the large enclosure. Wisdom called him……what an amazing sight!!

Blondie immediately stood up and came towards him, we would have loved to have seen his proper reaction to Wisdom, however it was unfortunate that Sarah who he shared the enclosure with was in season and Blondie was not prepared to leave her alone.

After many years of sanctuary here at the rehab, these lions (Goldie, Shortie and Blondie) had stolen the hearts of many visitors and staff which came through the gates.  Their story was heartbreaking, and their little stubby teeth were a constant reminder of their painful past.  It was a pleasure to offer these boys our very best, good food, a nice large enclosure, and even an attractive lioness (who by the way was given contraceptives so that no breeding occurred)!

In 2008 we were forced to make the difficult decision to have Shortie humanely euthanized.  As his name suggests he was a very stunted lion and seemed to only shrink as time progressed (as is so often the case with old age)!  It was only the common signs of age; weight loss, inability to control his bladder and difficulty in moving around and performing his usual daily behaviors which forced us to make this difficult decision.

A year later we were faced with the same prognosis with Blondie.  He was losing weight at a rapid rate, he was urinating down his legs throughout the day, and his roars became less and less.  The staff and students all agreed that the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep.  He was euthanized on the 21st April 2009. These boys had, at the very least, enjoyed the last 13yrs of their lives in peace, and their impact on the thousands who saw them over the years, will hopefully live on long into the future.  

They have lived their years out as almost a wild lion would have and yes, we can say we gave them the best we could under the circumstances. We can always look back firstly with gratitude that we were given the opportunity to care for these beautiful lions in their last days, and that we can say they were happy.

To read more about Moholoholo Rehab Centre and all the other facilities , please visit our Moholoholo website.

Mar 9, 2009

Increase in bird deaths caused by power lines

A Recent increase in bird deaths caused by power lines has raised a great concern here at Moholoholo. In the last 4 weeks we have found 2 Marabou Storks, 1 Cape Vulture and 2 Hadeda Ibises, all killed by collisions with power lines!! These are the corpses which we have found on one area of our farm.  We are, therefore, forced to ask the question– ‘How many more deaths are occurring every day which we do not know about?’ How many lives are lost, which go unnoticed? 
We believe this recent increase in deaths is due to the new configuration of power lines in the Limpopo Province.  Most of the power lines around this area used to be of horizontal configuration, meaning that all the cables were the same height above the ground. When looking at the power lines from the side, you would, therefore, only be able to see one cable/strand. Recently many of the power lines in the area have been reconfigured to a vertical position, which means that looking from the side 3 full cables, are visible one above the other.  Obviously this increases the ‘risk area’ for birds which fly by the lines.  The frightening prospect is that the birds we have found were merely those found on Moholoholo itself, within one month, around a newly altered power line!!
These line configurations were erected without informing our centre, and they are situated very close to our vulture restaurant.  We have spent the last month begging for these to be altered back to its original configuration, and have been told it would take another 6 months to arrange, that is if it gets re-arranged.  Imagine the death toll after 6 months!!!!  The worst news is that some of these birds are on the endangered list!
With power lines being altered all over this area, we have urged Telkom to re-consider the change and to take note how many birds are dying in areas like Kruger Park for one?  Who is watching out for these occurrences?  A few years back, we were told by Eskom that every time they work on lines in the park they find a great number of dead birds surrounding the lines!!  Imagine how many more are being killed now!
This increase has caused such concern at the Rehabilitation Centre, that we would like to urge members of the public to keep their eyes open and report any dead birds found near power lines.  These newly configured power lines will pose a greater risk for many of our beautiful bird species in the area.  It is an issue which we must keep an eye on, and which we cannot allow to get out of hand!! 
Please support us in our investigations!! 
Contact us on 015 79 55 236
If possible ask to speak to Brian Jones or Corrie van Wyk

Feb 23, 2009

Spiky situations and Porcupines Released from Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre

Most of you met our ‘spiky’ friends on a previous article. These little bundles of spikes with an attitude arrived here at the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre in the beginning of 2008. We took them to be around 2 weeks old and were told the mother was presumably shot. They were so small they could fit in your cupped hand. We named them Sonic and Rover.

This is the first time baby porcupines have been admitted to the Animal Rehab centre. Some research had to be done on what kind of milk to raise them on. The one bit of news we found out was that other porcupines had been successfully raised on Kitty Milk, which would provide a little more protein for the youngsters.

It was not difficult at all to get the little ones to drink; the only problem was handling the spiky little balls. Having to feed during the night we had to take them home with us. They became quite demanding eventually, waking you up when they are hungry by making a sound like a mixture of a cough, sneeze and growl. Once they had had their drink they would go back to bed and snooze off their filled tummies.

Sonic had an unusual habit of being a nuisance, by using his brother’s ear as a dummy whenever he wanted to go off to sleep. It took us a while to wean him from sucking it, but eventually he stopped, much to our relief.

They started feeding on solid food quite soon (how many weeks or months) and made easy work of the veggies and fruit that was given to them. This is also the time that they became spickier. Their quills started firming up making it more difficult to handle them when they were having a squabble (Strop). And they always made us giggle when they got particularly cross and starting rattling their little quills on their bottoms, like the adults would.

Since then they have been a very interesting addition to the Animal Rehab Centre. And they are adored by everyone. They then reached the age to be released but as is always the case with the birds and animals that come to the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre and are ready to be released….where can we release? Who would want them? It was not an easy task so we had to hold them for a number of months whilst looking for somewhere to release.

With all the rain we have had here in the Lowveld the bushveld looks lush and will provide enough food for these animals to be released. We eventually found a small reserve near Letsitele, here in Limpopo where there are almost no predators and good vegetation for the Porcupines.

Did they run into the sunset to be happy ever after…? NO! It just could not be that simple. As soon as the box was opened they ran out and took cover under the Moholoholo vehicle, and refused to come out regardless of any coaxing. Eventually we had to slowly move the vehicle away so that they were exposed and would run off into the bush. Again they counteracted this idea by running under the vehicle as it moved, some of our babies find it hard to leave the luxury treatment of the Animal Rehab Centre! Eventually we prevailed, knowing what was best for them (even if they didn’t) and they moved off into the bush to begin their new life of freedom.

So the bottom line is that 2 spiky porcupines have been released back into the wild after being successfully hand reared at Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre. We hope that they will enjoy their new home and stay out of trouble.

For more information on the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre visit our website.

Jan 21, 2009

Our Year-End Update

Well, it is almost the end of the year 2008 which has rapidly approached at a frightening speed so we thought to give you an update on our bouncing babies and their progress!!
Double Trouble: 
Our two baby rhino that were rescued in the Kruger Park in September and October are doing really well.  They have both filled out nicely and are beginning to look like proper little white rhino now.  Their horns are just starting to sharpen and have broken through but they are still two, very gentle giant babies with hearts of gold.

Kuza and Satara (as they were named) are still accompanied by a babysitter at all times throughout the day and often they are found snoozing in the shade during the midday heat cuddled up to one of our volunteers.  They are now able to sleep in an outside enclosure at night together and have adjusted well to their new ‘bedroom’ (and Natalie our vet nurse can finally sleep in her own bed after two months on the clinic floor!) Despite Satara’s initial fear of mud wallows (having been stuck in a trough at a water hole in Kruger park in the searing heat all day before we rescued him) he and Kuza now happily play in their make-shift mud wallow and it is quite a sight to see our students covered head to toe in mud whilst playing with the rhino in their wallow!  We can’t quite decide who is having more fun!!!
The typical rhino ‘mentality’ of, ‘if I can’t fit through this gap I’ll just push until I can’ is coming into play already with these two!  We are desperately trying to keep them away from the accommodation area after our past experience of rhino’s and furniture! They also have a tendency to suck the piping off the sinks and when the students come to do their laundry the water gushes through the sinks onto their feet! It is quite something; however, to return home to two grey ‘innocent looking’ bundles fast asleep in the shade on your doorstep!!  
They are indeed a constant delight to all of us here as well as our visiting volunteers.  Most cannot believe their eyes when they arrive to see these two little guys strolling around in the garden perfectly content to be in each others company as well as making sure they have the protection and security of a two legged friend!  For the moment they are sweet natured and happy to interact with the visitors on our daily tours.  We wait to see their attitude as they grow and their little horns get sharper and longer!  But you cannot help falling in love with these hefty, four legged babies with (we have to admit) a rather limited brain capacity!! 
Two Furry Bundles: 
When our two tiny lion cubs arrived at the centre in October we had some idea of what we were entering into!  Brian (the manager) warned us of what we were taking on, however, at only 9weeks we are beginning to realize actually what we are ‘in for’!!  The two little fat bundles with huge bellies and fluffy little teddy bear faces have already grown into little bundles of mischief!  They have stretched out their little stomach’s and grown into young lions with beautiful features and the most stunning pairs of eyes you are ever likely to look into! 
But behind this gorgeous exterior is a will to destroy attack and investigate everything and everyone they come into contact with!!  The office has been turned upside down with their visits, nobody and nothing is safe from this playful pair!  Wires and cardboard boxes are an absolute favorite, and whilst we usually humor them with the boxes the wires have required quite some discipline.  They are also finally fighting back with their little friend Mitsy the Maltese terrier.  Whilst the play often becomes quite rough, Mitsy is too proud (it appears) to cry out and usually gets her revenge when the playful cubs have finally worn themselves out and take a snooze (usually inside one of the cardboard boxes)!!  Her favorite tactic is to grab one by the tail! much to the annoyance of the selected cub. 
This week the cubs had meat for the first time!  It was quite an exciting time, and a milestone for these two, which they were more than happy to reach.  Duma is always eager for his meat meals and finishes his off in lightning speed.  Telo, however, is more reluctant to enjoy his meaty meals and is taking some persuading!  We have no doubt; however, that in no time at all the pair will be working their way through many kilos of meat every week!
The determination to pounce on people, legs and children (usually family members at this point so as not to risk injury to visitors) is also requiring some discipline, and whilst we are well aware that they are still very young and everything is just a game, the claws and power behind these two is already incredible and needs to be controlled.  None of us can quite believe the strength, intelligence and mischief that this pair demonstrates, and we all have a new-found respect for these incredible creatures!!  We are already anticipating the chaos of Telo and Duma at six months!!  Students and visitors beware!! 
But in the meantime there is never any shortage of volunteers for babysitting duties, they romp and play and destroy throughout the day and we are quite proud to say we have two very contented little lions!!  We will keep you updated with their progress and antics as they get bigger and of course plenty of photos of this growing pair!!